-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
In his Spiritual Exercises (#299) St. Ignatius of Loyola invites the exercitant to contemplate on Jesus’ first Apparition after his Resurrection: to his beloved Mother. It is the most natural thing that Jesus would do - to spend value-time with the one woman who accompanied him throughout his life. St. Ignatius reminds us ‘Scripture supposes that we have understanding, as it is written, “Are you also without understanding?”’ This apparition was undoubtedly a very personal and profound experience both for Mother and Son. Easter is....a personal and profound experience of our risen Lord!
Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: a woman is chosen to be the first communicator of the ‘Good News’, the prima Evangelizer. Jesus consistently took a stand for women. He broke down taboos and challenged the mindset of a highly patriarchal society. Appearing to Mary Magdalene, early that Easter morn, was his powerful statement and appreciation of the significant role women had to play in his Church and society. Easter is....a deeper realization that all women and men are created equal in the image and likeness of God!
Pope Francis highlights this powerful recognition of women by Jesus when he says, “The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess.” (Evangelii Gaudium #103) Easter is....the courage to accept the indispensable role of women in Church and society!
On Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis once again gave the world a very moving example as he washed the feet of differently-abled persons of different ages, ethnicities and religious confessions - among them were four women and a Muslim. The Pope gave the world a powerful reminder of Jesus’ commandment of love “if I your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Easter is....the humility and love we need to be inclusive - to bend down and wash the feet of the others!
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, broke it and shared it among his disciples. He does a fairly similar exercise with the cup of wine. Not all present are able to grasp the totality and meaning of this supreme act of love. Later, on the road to Emmaus, the disciples are unable to recognize Jesus along the route but they finally do so at the breaking of the bread. Easter is....the ability to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread and in doing so – to heal the brokenness of our world!
The Risen Lord brings peace to all those whom he meets after his Resurrection! The world we live in today is becoming more and more fragmented, torn apart by violence, sectarianism, hatred, divisiveness, inequalities and injustices. This is our context and none of us can abdicate the role and responsibility that is given to us by the Lord, to be channels of his peace, to sow love everywhere. Easter is....the commitment to be communicators of the Lord’s peace to all around us!
Easter is....ALL THIS and much more!
19th April, 2014